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8 May, 2010 05:03

Pavlov’s House – a famous stronghold in the historical battle of Stalingrad

The Battle of Stalingrad was one of the most epic battles in world history. A building, called “Pavlov’s House” became a genuine fortress at a decisive point of the fight.

RT highlights key points of the war and how the main geographical spots of decisive battles are preparing for the Victory celebration.

The death toll on both sides in the Battle of Stalingrad was around 2 million people, with about 470,000 civilians who were not allowed to evacuate the city because it was though to be a sign of weakness in the Soviet people. Thus, they lost their lives there as well.

A new type of fighting was performed at the battle. The Germans were not comfortable going house to house, room to room, and in some cases there were buildings where Germans were on the top floor, Soviets were immediately below, then another floor of Germans, and Soviets below…fighting, trying to keep these buildings as strongholds.

One of these buildings is a Pavlov’s House. Some civilians remained in these houses and lived through the Battle of Stalingrad.

Zinaida Andreeva, who was born in the building, reflects on the extraordinary circumstances that greeted her into this world.

“I was born here and I was in this house all 58 days until it was liberated,” Andreeva recalls. “Soldiers helped us, there was a tunnel between the mill and the house and they mixed soil with grains and made bread for us. That was our food.”

Pavlov’s house became well-known in history books as the primary example of patriotism and heroism shown by the Red Army who during the battle for Stalingrad defended their positions vigorously.

“It‘s named after Sergeant Pavlov, who was one of the three soldiers sent to the building to explore the situation,” says historian Tatyana Prikazchikov. “They found civilians and injured soldiers in the basement. Pavlov understood that it was impossible to hold the building with only three soldiers, so he asked for reinforcements to be sent, but they couldn’t arrive for a few days more.”

When reinforcements arrived, they only brought the group in the house up to a fighting strength of 24 people. That crew defended their post for the remainder of the conflict.

“The reason these two buildings were so important is they protected the crossing of the Volga River, which was really the only lifeline,” Prikazchikova explains. “If the Germans had occupied these buildings, they would have been in a good position to fire on the crossing, which was the only way the division could re-supply the Red Army from the other bank of the Volga."

The small fighting force inside the structure are often credited with killing more Germans than were lost in the Nazi campaign for France, and the Axis Forces’ inability to retake the house caused it to be labeled a fortress on German maps.

At the end of the fighting, Pavlov’s House had been reduced to ruins, but was left standing as a memorial of the Battle of Stalingrad. Judging from the ruins, one can get a sense of the living conditions inside, which in some cases were just as threatening as the fighting of the war, outside.

“I had a stomach illness and I was dying,” Ekaterina Andreeva remembers. “The soldiers said even adults were dying and I was a child, so they started making a grave for me. They wrapped me in felt from their boots to bury me. But while digging, the shovel struck something and it was a religious icon. They saw it as a sign and so it saved me.”

After the war, the House of Pavlov was the first building in Stalingrad to be rebuilt and, using bricks from the rubble of the original structure, a monument was erected at the building’s south-eastern corner. It is just a small reminder of the heroism that was crucial to Soviet success in one of the most significant battles in world history.